Last week I was invited on a tour along Sloane Street as part of London Craft Week.  Alongside the Victoria & Albert Museum’s exhibition What is Luxury? – which I sadly missed,  this #LCW15 tour sought to seek out the meaning of luxury by giving us a personal experience with brands renowned for their luxurious status.

Our first stop was Louis Vuitton where we were guided through the history of the brand, from the founder’s humble beginnings to the current designs that still reflect LV’s core values and designs.

Sloan Street Tour - Louis Vuitton

We learned how travel was at the heart of Louis Vuitton’s brand and that if something could not be transported, LV could not make it.

Sloan Street Tour - Louis Vuitton

We discussed the intricacies of Louis Vuitton’s current designs that have been borne from the original details which the brand is renowned for.

From this diamond crosshatch design which originally derived from the interior of Louis Vuitton’s first travel case … Sloan Street Tour - Louis Vuitton

… to the floral emblem that is recognised when you look closely at LV’s signature design, the concept of luxury was explored in the light of details, the quality of materials and a personalised service which LV excels at.

A walk along Sloane Street and our next stop was Fendi …
Sloane Street Tour - Fendi

… where we discussed fur coats, which Fendi is renowned for.Sloane Street Tour - Fendi

This bag also caught my eye at Fendi. Isn’t it fabulous?

Sloane Street - Fendi

Our next stop along Sloane Street was Jumeriah Carlton Tower Hotel where we stopped for a cocktail at The Rib Room’s bar.
london-jumeirah-carlton-tower

I enjoyed a Sloane Street Vespa as we listened to Penelope from Fox & Squirrel enlighten us about the history of Chelsea, which I found fascinating. I’ve lived in Chelsea all my life and there is always something new to learn about this area. The latest nugget that impressed me was that Andy Warhol used to stay at the Carlton Tower and drink his cocktails in the bar. I hadn’t realised this hotel had such a history.london-jumeirah-carlton-tower

Our final stop on the tour was Smythson and being a true stationery geek, I absolutely revelled in being here and learning about the history of this place. So far, we had discussed leather, fur, local history and now it was time to talk paper.

Sloane Street Tour - Smythson

Here, we learned about Smythson’s Panama Diary innovation. Based on the idea of the flexible nature of the Panama Hat, this notepad was revolutionary. The thin paper allowed the writer to use a fountain pen on both sides of each sheet whilst men could now carry their notepad in their breast pocket or back trouser pocket; something we take for granted, but revolutionary nonetheless.

Sloane Street Tour - Smythson

Luxury exists at Smythson again in terms of quality and like Louis Vuitton and Fendi, also with true personal service. Embossing leather cases as well as personalised stationery which Smythson offers did excite me because given I have more digital gadgets I actually know what to do with, I still revel in the quality of good paper, a beautiful notepad and something I can write in and treasure.Sloane Street Tour - SmythsonAs the tour ended and Angie and I set on our way to grab a drink nearby, I looked back at the afternoon and appreciated the chance I had to listen to the personal stories of these luxury brands.

Chelsea Girl

Cherry blossoms are one of my favourite reasons to love spring. So when I was invited to try another season of Sakura at Sake no Hana, I leapt at the chance.
Sakura at Sake no Hana

If my visit last year was anything to go by, this was an opportunity to enjoy dining in a beautiful environment whilst tasting an inspired menu. I knew I couldn’t miss it.Sakura at Sake no Hana

Sakura means cherry blossom so until June 20th, Sake no Hana has been transformed into a gorgeous cherry blossom garden. And during this time, a limited edition Sakura menu allows diners to enjoy dishes and cocktails inspired by cherry blossoms. Doesn’t this sound heavenly?Sakura at Sake no Hana

Our meal started off with the Violet Risshun, which is a gin-based cocktail of two parts to represent the start of spring as well as the period when the season is in full bloom. Sipping this cocktail was effortless. It was both smooth and refreshing. I loved it.Sakura at Sake no Hana

Fiona and I then had a bowl of white miso soup each …

Sakura at Sake no Hana

… followed by a dish of sesame spinach with cassava chips … Sakura at Sake no Hana

… whilst the bento box included a range of sashimi, nigiri and maki.

Sakura at Sake no Hana

Like the signature Sakura cocktail, dessert came in two parts:  Cotton Cheesecake with cherries, cream cheese and cherry sorbet …  

Sakura at Sake no Hana

… followed by Cherry Blossom macarons, which I enjoyed with a flat white. There is cherry tea on the menu too, which I have tried before and which I remember enjoying.

Sakura at Sake no Hana

But the reason why I ordered the coffee is because I wanted to see if Sake no Hana’s coffees were as good as their cocktails. Good coffee in London still feels like a novelty so I was happy when my flat white arrived tasting rich in flavour and feeling velvety as I sipped it.

Sakura at Sake no Hana

If you are in the St. James area and are in the mood for spring then I recommend Sakura at Sake no Hana. Sake no Hana’s cocktails are consistently very good and I have always enjoyed eating here!

Chelsea Girl

At the start of this year I made the conscious decision to go to the theatre more in 2015. Theatre is my first love and for one reason or another my visits slowed down over time. So a couple of months ago, I started booking tickets and as soon as I learned about Damian Lewis and John Goodman appearing in American Buffalo at Wyndham’s Theatre, I booked my ticket for the first night possible, which was last Thursday.American Buffalo at Wyndham's Theatre

Wyndham’s Theatre has been a hit and miss place to watch plays for me so I went along hoping, really hoping, this wasn’t going to be one of those ‘miss’ experiences.

After all, Damian Lewis, John Goodman? I love those guys. Plus it was a David Mamet play. Expectations were high and after watching Antigone with Juliette Binoche last month I really wanted a reason to fall back in love with the stage. So was it any good?
American Buffalo at Wyndham's Theatre
It was very good and after all I’ve just said, surprisingly good.

American Buffalo develops with the witty, sharp dialogue that you can only expect from David Mamet. The lines were slick and the characters were affecting and engaging in their own way.

Damian Lewis looked like he had stepped out of Carlito’s Way, oversized sunglasses included, in his role as “Teach” Cole whilst John Goodman was well-drawn as the tender yet scheming Don Dubrow. But the biggest surprise of all was Tom Sturridge who I only mention now because when I booked my ticket I had no expectation of him at all. I’d never seen his acting anywhere so I assumed he would be at best ok. Tom Sturridge was the surprise of the evening. His acting talent was superb, flawless and very convincing as the ‘junkie’ Bob. He broke my heart every time he spoke. You could hear the years of pain that makes Bob who he is.

But American Buffalo isn’t what you expect. It’s full of laughter, heart and most of all, it explores the friendships between three unlikely comrades.

If you can get a ticket, do. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Chelsea Girl

If you have any spare time between now and 2nd May 2015, I urge you to visit the Saatchi Gallery for an exhibition that is truly full of wonder and surprise.

Hermès Wanderland is pure escapism whether you are an ardent fan of Hermès or someone who has been secretly longing for a trip down the rabbit hole ever since you picked up a copy of Alice in Wonderland.

Hermès Wanderland at Saatchi Gallery

From the moment I stepped into the exhibition I couldn’t help but be in awe of every detail in every room and on every corridor.
Hermès Wanderland at Saatchi Gallery

Even more , I’ve had to think carefully about which photos I was ready to share from the exhibition because I do think the less you know about Hermès Wanderland, the more you will get from it. But from the two photos I have selected, I hope I have conveyed another exciting concept from the exhibition, that the visitor is immersed in the art. You walk through it and you become part of it which is reflective in what is described as flânerie: “that wonderfully liberating art of urban wandering”, which is “second nature to Hermès.”Hermès Wanderland at Saatchi GalleryFor more information about Hermès Wanderland, if you can’t resist, see Saatchi Gallery’s webpage here. And one last note, the exhibition is free. Now there’s no excuse. 😉

Chelsea Girl

The word on the street is that this glorious weather we’re having isn’t just a blip. We’re talking months of sunshine ahead of us … or so I hope (if I haven’t just jinxed it).

So it only makes sense to mention King’s Road’s latest restaurant opening, The Ivy Chelsea Garden which boasts the largest restaurant garden in London and which I visited last week for lunch.

Ivy Chelsea Garden

Stepping inside you can only be impressed with the renovation of the building. Both Joudie and I had grown up along the King’s Road and so the restaurant’s former interior as Henry J. Beans was firmly imprinted on our minds.Ivy Chelsea Garden

But every inch of The Ivy Chelsea Garden feels like a transformation. From the bar … Ivy Chelsea Garden

… to the gorgeous inside seating area, which differs in style as you walk around. The whole place has a light and airy feel about it and you truly feel like you have been transported off the King’s Road and into a world of its own.Ivy Chelsea GardenAs for the garden, neither Joudie or I remember the original garden looking so big. The outside space feels like an absolute delight to walk around and …

Ivy Chelsea Garden… there are even quieter nooks to sip a glass of something special in.

Ivy Chelsea Garden

As for lunch, I started off with a glass of Prosecco whilst Joudie ordered a Bloody Mary with Sipsmith Gin. Ivy Chelsea Garden

Joudie ordered the tuna carpaccio which I think was the winner amongst our starters. Ivy Chelsea GardenI chose the crispy duck salad which I thought was ok but nowhere near as good as the tuna.

Ivy Chelsea Garden

For main, we both ordered the whole lemon sole with a side of zucchini fritti. Ivy Chelsea Garden

Ivy Chelsea Garden

But the highlight of my lunch had to be the diary-free panna cotta, which was a set coconut cream pudding with chilli infused shaved pineapple. I’ve been mourning the loss of panna cotta in my diet since I discovered I was dairy intolerant so I was more than pleased to see this dish on the menu, which passed with flying colours.

Ivy Chelsea GardenThe Ivy Chelsea Garden is a great addition to the King’s Road and a beautiful place to dine. Although, I wouldn’t be entirely honest if I didn’t mention that I did experience some teething problems with the albeit friendly service. Hopefully this is all down to ‘early days’ because I’m already planning my return.

The Ivy Chelsea Garden,  197 King’s Road, London SW3 5ED.

Chelsea Girl

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